What does it take to create a feeling of community and security? Rågsved is a suburb of Stockholm struggling with a poor reputation. Real estate company Ikano, who owns many of the rental apartment buildings in the area, wanted to transform Rågsved into a thriving community.

The perceived comfort and safety in the Rågsved district is low compared to other areas in the capital. This results in people moving in and out quickly, a lot of illicit subletting, an insecure environment for the residents and their children and increased costs for Ikano. To combat this, Ikano wanted to create a feeling of comfort, safety and well-being to increase current residents’ satisfaction and pride in their suburb, facilitate integration and make people want to stay long term.

You don’t choose to live in Rågsved today. My goal is to turn Rågsved into a place where people actually choose to live Anders Wahlqvist, superintendent at Ikano Bostad

Anders Wahlqvist, superintendent at Ikano Bostad

Using several collaborative methods and iterations, Veryday’s designers gathered rapid insights and started to build an understanding of the residents’ aspirations and needs.

Ikano had identified that successful long-term change would only be possible in collaboration with the real tenants. This meant that we had to work hard to gather input from as many Rågsved residents as possible, and come up with new research and recruitment methods to do so.

Ulrika Ewerman, Veryday

The majority of the residents we met described a wish for more social interactions with their neighbors. The reasons for this varied; some wanted to find new friends, others wanted to learn more Swedish, and some didn’t want to involve themselves personally but could see the benefit of a tighter community. Building and facilitating areas and activities for interaction between the residents emerged as a crucial component of developing an increased perception of well-being. If you know your neighbors, you are a part of a community. If you are a part of a community, you feel more comfortable and safe.

We started small and focused on making things happen. How could we, through a collaborative process, test services and activities that could transform a residential area? We came up with a variety of activities that we piloted in Rågsved. These included:

  • The creation of social meeting areas

Many expressed a wish for a more inviting yard area. Places to sit and eat outside, places to interact with neighbors and places to sit and hang out more privately. We upgraded the barbecue-area, outdoor furniture was moved and added according to the residents’ ideas and a “sitting-stair” was built to facilitate access to the hill in the middle of the yard. A race track was painted onto the sidewalk for the kids.

  • A multicultural potluck

We invited all residents to a multicultural potluck where everyone was encouraged to bring a special dish representing their country of origin. Our team contributed with Swedish specialties like lox on crisp bread and meatballs.

  • A digital platform

We tested and evaluated a prototype of a digital platform. This platform and digital tool provided the tenants with relevant information from Ikano, but also a platform for interacting with neighbors. A digital tool that enables sharing and services or encourages initiatives for everyone to participate in.

Some activities lasted only a day and focused on facilitating meetings while the changes we made to the outside areas are more permanent. By visiting the area frequently over a long period of time and knocking on people’s doors we were able to reach the residents who, for different reasons, don’t respond to regular recruitment. Our immersive and inclusive methods allowed us and Ikano to meet and understand the needs of the true target group and increase comfort and engagement.

We were thinking of moving from this area, but after the activities this spring we decided to stay here

Ilse, Resident